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Why do rabbits bite?

With Easter approaching, if your kids are begging for their own bunny, remember that rabbits aren't a holiday toy. They're a pet and a long-term commitment. You may be caring for that rabbit long after your kids have left for (and maybe graduated from) college.

Whether you head down to the local animal shelter to adopt a rabbit or you or your kids are around a friend's or neighbor's bunny, it's important to remember that they can and do bite.

Rabbits will use teeth for communication or defense

Many rabbits will "nip" people as a way of trying to communicate something. A nip generally won't draw blood or cause much pain. However, a rabbit bite is another matter.

Rabbits can bite if they're angry about something, frightened or protective of their territory. Maybe a child is petting them too much or being too rough with them. Some rabbits bite because they don't see well and mistake someone's finger for food. Other rabbits have behavioral issues that their owners need to address.

A rabbit bite can draw blood and cause considerable pain. Likely, it's not going to be dangerous. However, it's essential to treat the wound immediately. A shallow wound can typically be treated by washing with soap and water and then putting an antibiotic cream and bandage on it.

If the bite is deep, if there's excessive bleeding or if the wound begins to look infected, it's best to have a doctor look at it and determine if a tetanus shot is required. The chances of a pet rabbit having rabies are very slim. However, if you have reason to believe that the animal could be carrying any type of disease, it's best to get emergency treatment.

If you or your child has suffered a serious bite from a friend's, neighbor's or other person's pet rabbit, be sure that you get the compensation you need to cover medical treatment, shots and other expenses that result from the bite.

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